What Does Depression Look Like to You?

As I celebrated my birthday this weekend I reflected on my life, how I gave away power in search for love and acceptance and strayed from discovering my purpose during this life time. I also reflected on the many blessings I have because the headlines have shown prominent individuals who reportedly committed suicide.

Whenever the topic of suicide comes up, many people ask what was wrong with the individual. Many state things like, “They looked so happy”, “But they were so successful”, “But they acquired (fill in the blank)”. There is no compassion, concern or understanding in any of those comments. Society has become so commercialized that many believe that monetary or social success equates to happiness. Social media has made it too easy to hide behind filters, on top of the societal filters we already wear daily.

Depression is not something only poor people or drug addicts deal with. It is a mental health disorder that does not go away. It has to be managed daily. Every person is different, with different experiences contributing to their particular situation. Medication is not a cure all for every case either.

Depression: n. 1. Feelings of severe despondency and dejection. Synonyms: melancholy, misery, sadness, unhappiness, sorrow, woe, gloom, despair, dejection, moroseness…

The former Miss USA, Cheslie Kryst passed away over the weekend with headlines stating it a suicide. Just a few days before, actress, Regina King’s son was reported to have committed suicide. Last month Sinead O’Connor’s son committed suicide. There are a lot of should have, could have, would have comments from people but think to yourself, would you recognize the signs of depression in any of your loved ones? If you struggle with depression, do any of your loved ones know or would they recognize the signs?

I lost a friend in 2017 to suicide and I didn’t recognize what was going on with him because I was wrapped up in my own battles. Now he is gone. Each time I think of throwing in the towel I see his picture in my mind as though he’s telling me “You better not even.” So I fight through for the both of us. It is a daily battle, so my goal is to plan how I envision my future, but focus on conquering today.

We all need to be able to have a safe space to talk about how we feel openly and without judgment. But not everyone has that person or place of safety to retreat to. If you or a loved one is dealing with depression, please talk to someone, this is a 24/7 mental health hotline: 1-866-903-3787. You are not alone. If you need help, please reach out to someone.

Another Cycle Around the Sun!

I have entered level 42 today and the lessons of the last 20 years have prepared me for today. I woke up thinking about drafting a knit pattern for pants. Also, the thoughts of how my experiences have shaped me as a person. It’s amazing how the most humble and empathetic people on the planet have endured and survived a variety of disappointment, abuse, betrayal…

Pain has a way of bringing the simplistic reality of life to the forefront of our consciousness. Amazingly, in the midst of that pain we have the ability to learn, grow, and teach through our experiences. Growth opens us to new levels of being, new energetic vibrations that attract individuals to us. Harmonious vibrations bring harmonious interactions and in my new year I want to be more conscious and intentional about my personal vibrations.

Over these last 6 months I have become more intentional about what I create with my hands. Crafting with love, being aware of the energy I craft into my projects. And being intentional about making time for myself. As a gift to myself, I have knitted a sweater and a matching Beret. One, because I wanted a new sweater and two, I wanted to prove to myself that I could successfully knit a Beret. I have done it and what a wonderful way to begin my new level, knowing without doubt that our biggest obstacle in life is mastering our minds and the thoughts we allow into it.

Knitted Beret and matching Sweater

Take this moment to reflect on the thoughts you allow daily and whether they help you or distract you. Then decide how you want to proceed. What would you accomplish with the mastery of your mind?

Happy New Year 2022!

2021 refused to go away quietly. In a last ditch effort, the year snatched Betty White from us. I used to watch the Golden Girls with my mom as a child. As a curious 7 year old I couldn’t understand why Rose seemed so clueless. It angered me because I felt girls were always shoved in a box and told to stay there. “Don’t ask questions, don’t speak out, don’t point out wrongs, just go along with what you’re told.” As a young black girl in a world constantly telling me to shut up and sit down I wanted Rose to fight back. As I got older and saw Betty White in other acting roles, I understood. She has always fought back but in her own way. I am grateful for her being who she was.

For the past couple of days I debated whether or not to even write about the new year. I feel like I’m fighting the same internal battle I vowed to end several new years ago. But during part of 2020 and 2021 I did a short series of Facebook lives where I spoke my thoughts on current events and internal conflicts I had been working through. These lives were to release the conversations in my mind. I ended my lives with encouragement, more so for myself than for anyone else who may have watched. “Recognize you are dope. Share your dopeness. But be careful who you share your dopeness with because not everyone is equipped to handle it.” This is the encouragement my teenage self needed, so I share it for any who may find comfort in it.

Encouragement is more important now than ever before because the world has grown so desensitized to pain and suffering. Growth and progress requires quiet self-reflection and planning and that is not encouraged much in today’s world of chasing riches and fighting for survival. But during the holidays I came across a decorative piece that was simplistic and to the point: Progress Over Perfection. So instead of writing down an entire to-do list for 2022 I am choosing a theme for this year and progress over perfection is fitting.

May you maintain good health and a keen sense of what is right for you, and defend that firmly. Happy new year and may you create the life you’ve always wanted!

One Stitch At A Time

These last 18+ months have taken a mental toll on many of us. Far too often we are unable to take much needed rest because of life’s obligations. Jobs, children, aging parents, even pets have all still needed us performing at an optimal rate. But what is an optimal rate when burnout is looming around the bend? How do you protect your peace of mind and recharge yourself before spazzing out on an unsuspecting person? What can you do?

I don’t know about you but I have tried returning to my poetic place of solitude… nope. My inspiration tank was as dry as my mother’s first Thanksgiving turkey 🦃 🤣. Love you, ma. That in itself was concerning to me because poetry was always my go to place of relief and release mentally. Next I tried baking. Cookies, cakes, bread and pies. Delicious 😋 things smelling up my kitchen and swelling up my waistline 😭. No good. I tried forcing myself to interact with others outside. I attended some vending events, showed support for some of my IG friends in real time but it just didn’t do it. I still felt blah.

Ok, I thought to myself. Music is always a sure fire mood lifter. I scrolled through Pandora. Nope. YouTube Music. Nope. I even dug out my box of old cds from the late 90s-early 2000s. Not a happy toe tap to be found.

I couldn’t kick the funk I was in and it was seriously affecting my interactions with everyone around me. I was always irritable and cranky (and no, it was not that time of the month) and was ready to snap on anyone at a moments notice. Work pressures didn’t help. At that point I did 2 things. I called a friend for a referral to a therapist and I picked up my knitting needles.

I am so glad I did. My therapist is down to earth and real. She listens. We meet weekly through video chat on Duo and I couldn’t be happier with my choice. And since I’ve picked my needles back up I have been knitting consistently for the last 2 months. Today I decided to bring my current wip (work in progress) to work with me, to work on during down time. My commute was crazier than normal this morning (3 road construction slow downs and 2 road closures with a clogged detour) so instead of sitting in traffic frustrated as normal, I picked up my project and started knitting at every stop light and slow down. 🤗 I wish I had thought about doing this sooner. Now I look for the red lights so I can knit more stitches and my irritability is fading one stitch at a time.

Vanilla Sock Pattern by The Crazy Sock Lady

Knitting may not be for you, but then again it might. You won’t know until you try. My sure fire recommendation is to try something new to you. If you like it, go for it. If all else fails reach out to a professional for help. It’s confidential and that may be just what you need to release what’s on your mind. At the end of the day be good to you because today is yesterday’s tomorrow…

Quiet Inflection

It has been several months since I last posted. I am still learning about me. It’s a scary journey looking into the dark corners of myself, but necessary for my growth. Usually when I go into retrospective mode my pen comes alive and the words flow like a beautiful river but not this time. My river bank of poetry was dry. I started to panic. And then I grabbed my crochet hook…

Amongus Mini Crewmate pattern by Why Yet

Years ago I taught myself to crochet and to knit using kits I’d found at my local Wal-Mart. Learning these skills was a challenge as the patterns were written in a language I didn’t understand and I knew no one who could teach me. I understood the basic crochet and knit stitches and mastered how to make knit scarves and crocheted hats. Patterns for baby outfits and clothing terrified me because my understanding of both languages was limited. So I allowed my fear to stop my progress.

Here I am, almost 20 years later, reading patterns, following patterns and crocheting and knitting garments freehanded with less fear (the fear hasn’t gone away completely). What I learned is that my perception of my ability to learn and understand the language of knitting and crocheting blocked my growth. Making mistakes is how we learn. Mistakes, when acknowledged and learned from, is how we grow.

Chunky-Knit Cardigan pattern by Ashley Lillis

I have been inspired these last couple of months to grow through needlecrafts instead of poetry. At first, I was nervous but with each project I’ve completed and shared, I have gained confidence in my understanding of the language. I have realized that other areas of my life are no different, complete one project at a time and learn from any/every mistake made to grow in confidence. I plan to challenge my fears one at a time and hope this helps someone remember that we are not expected to know it all. Enjoy the process. Today is yesterday’s tomorrow, be great today.

Chunky-Knit Sweater Dress pattern by Why Yet

Happy New Year 2021!

OMG! 2020 was quite the ride for all of us. Whether that ride was fun or terrifying, we were all on it together, ride or die – no pun intended. We have lost many but in the midst of grief and, here in the U.S., political chaos we managed to continue breathing. I don’t know about you but I’m grateful for that.

I have been MIA since July 2020. I was focused on staying healthy and updating my financial house in light of the fallout of Covid-19. Many don’t believe it’s real, even with many dying and refuse to take protective measures – not only to protect themselves but to protect others. This is the major failing of America as a society because she was born of indifference to the suffering of others – unless she can profit off of it. That was the core message I understood from the outgoing administration. “The team reflects leadership…” – Remember the Titans, 2000.

2021 came in with true Aquarius-like flare. Strolling in with a great conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn on December 21st and full moon in Cancer on December 29th. All of my astrology and spiritually awakened people know what I’m talking about. Word on the street is the great conjunction ushered in the start of the Age of Aquarius. As an Aquarius I’m excited either way because I’m alive to see it. I spent a lot of time learning about myself in 2020 and healing those parts of me that I didn’t realize were still hurt. I thought writing poetry, expressing my pain through words would be all I needed to do but alas I discovered my poetry opened the door for me to explore how deep my pain goes so I can heal it. My poetry was my portal to my inner self that was hidden from plain sight. 2020 sucked, but growth only comes through adversity so I choose to see 2020 as the proctor of a mid-term exam we were unprepared for. In 2021 we can choose to do better, I know I have!

Image by Anja🤗#helpinghands #solidarity#stays healthy🙏 from Pixabay